Safe food would bring in more tourists, experts say

Laos would be more attractive to tourists if they could be assured of food quality and international hygiene standards.

aos would be more attractive to tourists if they could be assured of food quality and international hygiene standards.
This was the consensus of Lao and international experts yesterday when discussing the importance of food in promoting tourism.
The Lao National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality hosted a symposiumin Vientiane titled “Why food safety and hygiene matters for Lao tourism”, which was attended by over 50 people representing the public and private sectors.
Speaking at the event, Deputy Director General of the Food and Drug Department, Dr Sivong Sengaloundeth, said “Restaurants in Laos must become aware of international food production safety and hygiene standards, as this would greatly help the country to attract more tourists.”
He referred to “The Mark” initiative recently launched for restaurants as part of the Luang Prabang Safe and Green Tourism Scheme. He cited the restaurant as an excellent example of a clean and safe dining initiative and said he would encourage similar restaurants to be opened around the country.
Dr Sivong said tourism was one of the main sectors generating income for Laos, but a reputation for food safety would be crucial in bringing more tourists to the country.
Also speaking at the symposium, Senior Expert in Postharvest from the Thai Department of Agriculture, Dr Amara Chinaphuti, shared Thailand’s good practice in the area of food safety and hygiene
for tourists. “Thailand links food safety and hygiene to tourism through Q (Quality) Restaurant certification, which is done
using Clean Food, Good Taste signs,” she said. She explained that if the use of chemicals is unavoidable, they should be used in the right way. If fruit or vegetables are processed in a factory, the factory should follow international standards concerning containers and packaging for example. Dr Amara also stressed the need for cooperation between all sectors to ensure good practice in food safety, with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Ministry
of Health as the main policy makers. She also noted the importance of communication, and the power of consumers who can refude to buy unsafe food unsafe food, which she said would encourage traders and producers to supply markets with safe products. “If food safety is ensured in Laos, which is already popular because of its stunning scenery, the country will be more attractive to visitors,” Dr Amara said.

The United Nations International Project  Coordinator who introduced “The Mark” to Luang Prabang, Mr Franck Caussin, said food safety was an important issue so he decided to discuss this with the owners of hotels and restaurants to improve kitchen practices. " The Mark", which  denotes clean and safe dining certification which meets international standards, is already taking off in Luang Prabang, and the same process can easily be applied in Vientiane,” he said.

Source: Vientiane Times, 24.10.2014 edition